Plane crash map Locate crash sites, wreckage and more

N2869F accident description

Maryland map... Maryland list
Crash location 39.445833°N, 77.633333°W
Nearest city Rohrersville, MD
39.433434°N, 77.662769°W
1.8 miles away
Tail number N2869F
Accident date 11 Aug 2001
Aircraft type Piper PA-28RT-201
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 11, 2001, about 1920 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28RT-201, N2869F, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with terrain and subsequent fire, near Rohrersville, Virginia. The certificated private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Zanesville, Ohio, about 1700, destined for Annapolis, Maryland. No flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

Examination of operator records revealed the airplane departed Lee Airport (ANP), Annapolis, Maryland, on August 6, 2001, with a proposed return date of August 12, 2001. The pilot's proposed route of flight included stops in Toledo, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Sullivan, Indiana.

A witness, who was standing on his front porch, observed the airplane flying overhead from west to east, about 1915. He stated that the airplane was flying straight and level, and appeared to be flying in a direct line from the Martinsburg Airport, Martinsburg, West Virginia, to the Fredrick Airport, Fredrick, Maryland. The witness reported that the weather was "drizzly," and he could not see the top of the mountain, because of the low cloud ceiling. He observed the airplane flying in and out of the clouds and he thought the airplane would "just barely make it over the mountain." The witness further stated that the airplane's engine noise sounded smooth and normal, at "about 3/4 speed."

A second witness observed the airplane under fog and mist, and then observed the airplane "pull up real quick to try to get over the mountain." He reported that he could not see the top of the mountain from ground level because of the heavy mist and fog. When the airplane appeared in his view, he knew the airplane "would not make it over the mountain." The engine sounded "normal" until he observed the airplane "pull up," and then heard the engine "rev up." The witness then heard what sounded like an impact.

A Safety Board Air Traffic Control Specialist examined radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and identified a target flying in the vicinity of the accident site at the time of the accident.

The target was first observed at 1900, about 5 miles west of the accident site, at an altitude of 1,200 feet, on an approximate ground track of 090 degrees. The target continued on the same track for about a minute and descended to 1,000 feet. Twenty-three seconds later, the target was observed at 1,400 feet on a ground track of 040 degrees. During the next minute, the target continued on the same track and climbed to 1,700 feet. At 1902, the target began a descent, and 10 seconds later, the last radar identification was observed at 1,500 feet, less than a mile west of the accident site.

The airplane was located on August 12, 2001, about 0715, by two hikers on the Appalachian Trail. The airplane came to rest in a heavily wooded area, at an elevation of 1,355 feet msl. The peak of the ridgeline was 1,800 feet msl, 3/4-mile east of the accident site.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight approximately 39 degrees, 26 minutes north latitude, and 77 degrees, 38 minutes west longitude.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane single engine land. The pilot did not posses an instrument rating.

The pilot's logbooks were not located; however, he reported 2,000 hours of total flight experience on his most recent FAA third class medical certificate, which was dated February 6, 2001.

Examination of the airplane operator's records revealed the pilot completed a 1.9 hour annual checkout on June 19, 2001, in a PA-28-180. He also completed an initial checkout on July 5, 2001, in the PA-28RT-201. One additional flight was documented in the PA-28RT-201, on July 16, 2001, for 1.8 hours.


A review of the airframe and engine records did not reveal evidence of any anomalies. The most recent inspection was a 100-hour inspection that was completed on July 18, 2001.


Weather reported at the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), Frederick, Maryland, about 12 miles east of the accident site, at 1920, included calm wind, 3 1/2 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 1,200 feet, a broken cloud layer at 2,600 feet, and an overcast cloud layer at 3,500 feet. The temperature was 24 degrees Celsius, dew point was 23 degrees Celsius, and the altimeter setting was 30.08 inches Hg. The field elevation for FDK was 303 feet.

Weather reported at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport (MRB), Martinsburg, West Virginia, about 16 miles to the west of the accident site, at 1918, included calm winds, 4 miles visibility, a broken cloud layer at 2,800 feet, a broken cloud layer at 3,600 feet, and an overcast cloud layer at 4,800 feet. The temperature and dew point were 23 degrees Celsius, and the altimeter was 30.05 inches Hg. At 1853, thunderstorms and rain were reported, as well as lightning in the distance, west and northeast of the airport. The field elevation for MRB was 557 feet.

Weather reported at the Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR), Hagerstown, Maryland, about 17 miles to the north of the accident site, at 1853, included wind from 110 degrees at 7 knots, 4 miles visibility with haze and thunderstorms in the vicinity, a broken cloud layer at 1,900 feet and an overcast layer at 2,400 feet. The temperature was 24 degrees Celsius, the dew point was 21 degrees Celsius, and the altimeter was 30.05 inches Hg. Lightning was reported in the distance southwest of the airport. The field elevation for HGR was 703 feet.

A National Weather Service Meteorologist conducted a search for in-flight advisories (AIRMETs) and pilot reports (PIRPEPs) issued during the period from 1700 to 1959 on August 11, 2001. According to the weather reports he provided, AIRMET "Sierra" had been issued for IFR and mountain obscuration. No PIREPs had been issued during the period.

According to an FAA inspector, a search of air traffic control and flight service station data revealed no records of the pilot obtaining a weather briefing or filing a flight plan on the day of the accident.


Examination of the accident site on August 12 and 13, 2001, revealed rising terrain consisting of 80-foot trees. The initial impact point was identified as the top of one of the trees, where the right wingtip was observed. The wreckage path extended 400 feet to the main fuselage, and was oriented on a heading of 070 degrees. Several angular cut tree branches were observed along the wreckage path, and two angular slash marks with paint transfers were noted on a fallen tree, near the main wreckage.

A 4-foot 8-inch outboard section of the right wing was located directly beneath the initial impact point. A concave dent was noted about 1-foot from the outboard leading edge of the wing. A section of the right aileron was attached to the wing at its outboard hinge.

The left wing was separated into four sections located along the wreckage path. Several concave dents were noted along the leading edge of these sections. The outboard section of the wing contained the left aileron attached at its inboard and middle hinges, and the aileron bellcrank was attached to the wing at its attachment point. Aileron cable continuity was established from the cockpit to the control surfaces, and broom-straw signatures were observed on the cable ends, at the wing separation points.

The main wreckage was oriented on a heading of 143 degrees. This section contained the fuselage, empennage, and inboard sections of both wings. The cockpit and cabin area of the airplane came to rest on its left side, and was consumed by a post-crash fire.

The fire-damaged empennage section of the airplane was separated from the fuselage behind the rear cabin seats, and came to rest inverted adjacent to the fuselage section. The rudder was attached to the vertical stabilizer at all of its attachment points, and rudder cable control continuity was established from the rudder pedals to the control surface. The horizontal stabilator was attached to the vertical stabilizer at all attachment points. Stabilator control continuity was established from the control surface, and from the cockpit to the "T-bar," which was damaged by fire. A measurement taken of the stabilator trim tab indicated a neutral to nose down position.

The inboard section of the right wing was separated at the wing root, and located adjacent to the right of the empennage. This section displayed severe fire damage and leading edge concave dents. The fuel tank was ruptured; however, the fuel cap was secured. The right landing gear was in the down and locked position. The right flap was separated from the wing and located beneath it. A portion of the right aileron was connected to the wing at its inboard and middle hinges. The bellcrank was located in the wing, but separated from its attachment point.

The fire-damaged inboard section of the left wing was separated at the wing root, and located at the base of the empennage. The fuel filler area of the fuel tank was separated from the wing, and the fuel cap was secured to it. The left main landing gear was in the retracted position. A section of the left flap was severely burnt and also located at the base of the empennage.

The engine was separated from the engine mounts and located about 50 feet beyond the main wreckage. The propeller was separated from the engine at the propeller hub, and located near the cockpit area of the main wreckage. One propeller blade displayed S-bending and chordwise scratching. The tip of the blade was curled and the blade was bent aft about 120 degrees. The other propeller blade was not recovered.

Examination of the engine was performed at the accident site. The engine was rotated by hand at the propeller flange and continuity was established through the valve train and powertrain to the accessory section. Compression on each cylinder was confirmed using the thumb method. The left magneto was found separated from the engine and the right magneto was not recovered. The left magneto was tested and produced spark on all towers. All spark plugs were removed; their electrodes were intact and were light gray in color. Fuel was observed in the engine driven fuel pump, and the fuel distributor unit. The vacuum pump was disassembled, and it was noted that the vanes were uniform in length. The drum displayed fresh 45-degree angle breaks around its circumference.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on August 13, 2001, by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Baltimore, Maryland.

The FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot.


According to an employee of the Sullivan County Airport (SIV), Sullivan, Indiana, one of the passengers stated to him that they had "run into a cell" around Terre Haute, Indiana, earlier in the day, and they had to spiral through "a hole" in the overcast to "get into the airport."

Wreckage Release

The airplane was released on August 15, 2001, to a representative of the owner's insurance company.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's continued VFR flight into obscured, mountanous terrain. Factors included the rising terrain and weather obscuration.

© 2009-2020 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.